SINGAPORE: Over a year and four months, a man stalked a young woman he had seen in school, through junior college and university, creating 17 Instagram accounts to harass her, emailing her father and hiring private investigators to film her.
Toh Wen Jie, 20, pleaded guilty midway through a trial on Wednesday (Apr 14) to one count of stalking the victim between October 2018 and February 2020.
He sent her sexually explicit messages, calling her his fiancee, girlfriend and wife. According to court documents, he used "burner phones" and accounts when she blocked or ignored him.
Toh waited for her outside her university for three to four hours a time over about a week, and wrote on his own question-and-answer Tellonym account that he had "a lot of time to kill" and that "I will literally strangle you if (it's) not against the law".
The court heard that Toh first began eyeing the victim in 2016 when she was taking part in an event that is unnamed to protect her identity. She is now 21.
He noticed her again when he was a student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic in 2017, at the Singapore Youth Olympic Festival. The victim never interacted with him and did not know he was watching her.
In 2018, Toh was a student in Anderson Serangoon Junior College and began stalking other girls when he found the victim on Instagram.
From Jun 8, 2018, he began sending her dozens of messages from his Instagram account, addressing her by name and indicating that he had been watching her.
He wished her luck for her A-Level exams and included his name and phone number, saying things like "you don't seem like your usual self today", and "make the sensible choice today, we are friends for life".
VICTIM CONCERNED WHEN SHE SAW MESSAGES
The victim saw his messages on Oct 15, 2018 when she opened her Instagram inbox and was concerned as she did not know who Toh was.
She asked him to stop messaging her as it amounted to harassment. When he replied, she blocked him, which made Toh upset.
In December 2018, the victim was training for a sports team when Toh approached her and said "sorry" before revealing his identity. When the victim realised he was her stalker, she became afraid and ignored him before returning to her training.
Toh got a job where she was training despite not being part of the sports team and tried to speak to the victim whenever she was alone. She gave one-word replies and walked away as she did not want to interact with him.
In early 2019, Toh found the victim's home address.
On one occasion in June 2019, he visited her home insisting that he wanted to meet her. The victim hid in the living room while her sister answered the door. Toh insisted on staying when he was told that the family wanted him to leave.
The family shut the windows and doors, but Toh stayed there for about an hour. He continued shouting outside the door and insisted to the police who arrived that he had a right to be there as it was a public road. After another 45 minutes, he left.
Toh found the email address the victim's father used for work and began emailing him in early September 2019. The man did not reply but told his daughter what happened.
Toh got a third party to tell the victim that he had "ample resources and time to find out everything about her" and "the means to appear everywhere she goes", frightening the victim.
On Sep 10, 2019, the victim and her mother filed a police report to launch a magistrate's complaint against Toh. Mediation was suggested during the process, but the victim did not wish to meet Toh at all, and so the magistrate's complaint was closed in November 2019.
PROMISED POLICE HE WOULD NOT CONTACT VICTIM
On Oct 2, 2019, Toh made a written statement to the police that he would not contact the victim or her father, but continued to harass the victim and her family.
He looked for the victim's father at his workplace and created a new Instagram account to harass the victim again, insisting that they meet.
Outraged at the victim's rejection, Toh began to send emails degrading the victim. He visited her home again on Dec 12, 2019, and told the victim's mother that he had gone to the Institute of Mental Health but was assessed to only have behavioural problems.
Between Dec 16, 2019 and Jan 7, 2020, Toh sent the victim hundreds of messages on Instagram using 16 Instagram accounts, creating a new one each time the victim blocked him.
According to court documents, the messages were degrading, sexually intrusive and implied threats of violence to anyone who was in a relationship with the victim, alternating between anger and possessiveness towards her.
Some of the messages read "(you're) not getting out ... this is the story we created together months ago", "people touch you they will suffer" and "if it's sexual activities you will reap what you sow".
HE HIRED PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS TO FOLLOW HER
On Jan 7, 2020, Toh hired private investigators to establish the victim's daily activities, movements and circle of friends. He instructed them to follow the victim and film her from 7am to 11am each day from Jan 13 and Jan 17 last year.
He then sent the victim the videos of her.
When the victim went overseas for an exchange programme, Toh found out and asked when she would return for Chinese New Year, providing flight details tracking possible flights she might be on.
He indicated that he would see her outside her house on Jan 23, 2020, and visited her a week later demanding to see her.
In February 2020, Toh continued to stalk the victim, waiting for her for hours at her university. On Jul 18, 2020, he wrote on his Tellonym account addressing the victim, threatening her if he were to see her with someone else.
He was eventually charged and wanted to claim trial, but pleaded guilty on the first day.
The judge called for reports to assess Toh's suitability for probation and reformative training. Toh will return to court next week.
For engaging in a course of conduct involving stalking acts, Toh could be jailed for up to a year and fined up to S$5,000.